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Seven years ago, I boarded a plane from Miami, FL to visit Detroit in the middle of winter to search for amazing food. Since then, I have found that and so much more. I’ve torpedoed down a metal slide, hosted a fundraiser for victims of a domestic terrorist, judged a food and dessert competition, attended a black-tie celebrity ball, ran from a guy who was running from the cops, and fell for she who shall not be named. I’ve also met some amazing people along the way and fallen completely in love with Detroit. The city has its share of challenges, but which city doesn’t?
It’s just like any other city in America, with one exception. The Black food scene is AMAZING! You wouldn’t know that based on the discussions about food cities I’m privy to. Interestingly, Detroit is rarely mentioned. Typical spots like NOLA, NYC and Chicago get thrown around, with little or no mention of the Black chefs, cooks, bakers, and the neighborhoods they represent. Some of the best restaurants in each of these cities are Black owned but they’re not included in the “foodie” tours or the city’s tourist division MUST VISIT LIST. Detroit, especially.
The Hungry Black Man Media changed that! We have been screaming DETROIT from the top of the food mountain for SEVEN YEARS with constant social media exposure, featuring articles on our national blog, and eating almost monthly at just about every Black owned space in Detroit.
Now that we’ve immersed ourselves into the city, we’re eager to rank what we’ve experienced. Importantly, we’ve reached out to our Detroit and Hungry Black Man audience to also learn their favorites. Yes, we visited the classic spots advertised all over the internet, as well as the staples, but many simply did not make the list.
In our analysis, we tallied all the tags and mentions, along with reviewing the standard rating sites. Of course, our primary assessments were conducted by our food review team that PAID TO EAT AT ALL OF THESE SPOTS to formulate the City of Detroit’s Top 10 Black Owned Restaurants of 2022.
6568 Woodward Ave Suite 100, Detroit, MI 48202
Phone: (313) 265-3093
Restaurant owners Hamissi Mamba and Nadia Nijimbere, a husband-and-wife duo who left their home of Burundi, brought Detroit an amazing arrival gift—the cuisine of their homeland. As a foodie, I am always excited to try new and exciting cuisine within the African-Diaspora, while also being a true partner to Black owned restaurants with my dollars. In addition to embodying everything beautiful about Black success, love, and family, the Nijimberes created a dining destination where everything is absolutely amazing. From the bright and vibrant design, to the hospitable service, and of course the OUTSTANDING CUISINE. The restaurant’s interior is beautifully decorated and spacious with a menu that has a focus on huge shareable plates with decipherable flavors of the African Diaspora (African-Americans, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Hispanic) cuisine here and there. I deeply appreciate the connection to the motherland through our food, like gumbo, jambalaya, and of course, collard greens.
My favorites were the amazing Mbuzi, a slow-roasted goat shank accompanied by fresh corn salad served with fried plantains, stewed yellow beans, and spiced rice pilau. According to Chef Mamba, this is a Burundian staple. The shank was so tender we were eating it with a spoon, scooping up rice and topping it with hot sauce sold in the store. Next would be the Samaki, a crisp flash-fried swai fish cooked with peppers and garnished with tangy sautéed onions served with fresh corn salad, fried plantains, stewed yellow beans. We had Mboga, spinach and finely ground peanuts braised in warming spices as our side with rice. Following the fish, I would go for the Kuku, a Pan-fried chicken in rich, tangy mustard-onion sauce served with fried plantains, stewed yellow beans, and either spiced rice pilau or coconut rice. This is likely the most relatable dish because of the chicken, especially for those super safe folks that you have to drag to an ethnic restaurant. My final recommendation would be the Nyumbani— tender beef slow-simmered in ripened tomato sauce served with fried plantains, peanut-stewed spinach, and your choice of spiced rice pilau or coconut rice. Drown it all down with their homemade Passion Fruit juice and the incomparable dessert Tamu, made with freshly cut passion fruit and avocado.
2100 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216
Chef Mike Ransom created one of Detroit’s most delicious eateries not only in the city, but all of Michigan! Ima Izakaya has some of the best ramen in Detroit by far. The menu also includes udon, pho, soups, sushi, rice, snacks, sandwiches, craft beer, wine & sake. I had a delicious gin cocktail with my favorites, the karage chicken, ginger beef pho, and the shrimp dumplings! The spot also has a menu of grilled skewered meats and both indoor and outside dining. I found myself going back to this place time and time again when visiting Detroit on our many food tours. It is surely slated to become a Detroit staple by ushering in an innovative outlook on Detroit’s food scene as a whole. Chef Ransom didn’t come to play games with capturing true Japanese flavor and sophistication. I love the way his sous chefs can churn out entrees that hit Japanese cuisine right on the head in many of their Japanese inspired and authentic entrées. This is a space Detroit can proudly add to their amazing food scene.
Shell Shock’d Tacos
2535 Bagley St, Detroit, MI 48216
This outpost currently serves up the city’s most soulful Mexican fusion cuisine. I couldn’t trust myself anymore after eating there because my inner fat man was unleashed, causing me to lose control on everything we ordered. Detroit is blessed to have at least three amazing Black owned Mexican concepts churning out deliciousness, and this spot is leading the pack with their expansive menu. Nation states have been founded on principles less important than their chicken crunch wrap and Elote Mexican street corn! I don’t have enough space to describe the intricate flavor profiles of each entree, so I’ll just summarize the entire menu by saluting how they nailed authentic Mexican flavor and taste! Everything we ate embraced Mexican culinary foundations with the souls of Black cooks! The cuisine was moderately spicy but not too heavy. It carried a depth of flavor combining savory and earthy tones that provided a fresh light experience to the tacos, yet a more bountiful one with burritos and their crunch wraps! It’s evident that fresh herbs and vegetables are used, and the price is definitely on point with generous portions that leave you full and happy. This is a space that you do not want to miss out on. They also are open late, giving you more than enough time to check them out!
3640 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216
Since 1972, Hygrade Deli has been an institution of sorts to the southwest Detroit area. Now Black owned, the space is churning out the same classic, nostalgically delicious old-school recipes! I had the equally amazing Ruben and chicken salad sandwiches. The Ruben was delicious and came with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, grilled between slices of rye bread with the corn beef having a soft, tender texture and a pinkish-red hue throughout. The taste was balanced with a good salty, spiced, sour meatiness. The chicken salad was a real star with its harmonious flavorings and perfect roll. Oh, and I just couldn’t resist asking the ladies to make me a classic grilled cheese. It brought me back to the days of government cheese as a child spending weekends at those cousins who ultimately teach you how to defend yourself. Damn that cheese was good back in the day. This space is emblematic of what classic Detroit cuisine is viewed as outside of the city. Tourists craving that nostalgia should make this deli one of their first stops! Natives have already given their stamp of approval for it to have been in existence for 50 years! Those are some good sandwiches.
Moore Soul Food
3005 S Fort St, Detroit, MI 48217
I had been asked several times to make our way to Moore Soul Food. We kept missing out because of how far the restaurant is from our hotels. We were finally able to visit, and the outstandingly delicious food was certainly worth the trip. It’s the type of mom-and-pop spot that you tell out of town folks about when they ask “what good food do they have in Detroit?” It’s yet another spot emblematic of Detroit’s Black food scene and a contender for best in the city. The beautifully flavored mac and cheese had a silky texture of buttery and salty goodness. The earthy collard greens boasted a slight vinegary punch, and the cornbread dressing, turkey and gravy had all the right notes of celery, onions, homemade cornbread, with herbs and just the right amount of sage that provided a small Thanksgiving feast. The baked chicken was juicy and flavorful (I ate the entire half chicken) along with the candied yams (sweet potatoes) that were incredible with all the flavors of brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and baked to a softened texture right before it gets to a mashed state that just slapped! The fried fish was tender and battered with a crispy flavorful coating that married the protein and coating for a memorable bite. The BBQ jerk chicken wings were tasty and definitely a game day treat if they allow you to order a bunch of them. The true gem food makes them one of the best in the city.
1431 Times Square, Detroit, MI 48226
Savannah Blue was one of my most memorable dining experiences in Detroit. Located downtown, its intimate design embraces evening vibes and a speakeasy feel in an upstairs dining room of a dated building that could have easily been used in a Batman movie. The service was so stellar we left our server a 25 percent tip because of her menu knowledge and pleasant personality. The whole fried fish was the best we’d had despite topping a tasty but slightly undercooked rice. The black-eyed pea hummus was OUTSTANDING! I had a version of this at Melba’s in Harlem, NY, that I thought was the best, but Detroit took the crown from the Queen. I loved everything about this dish. The flavorful, tender and hearty braised oxtail was an undeniable star! The cocktails were craft and executed with skill, precision, and creativity. Tourists should stop here first when diving into Detroit’s Black culinary scene. It’s certainly one of the city’s top-rated restaurants and I can’t wait to return. Cocktail enthusiasts would appreciate their top tier wine and spirits and craft cocktail creations.
Le Petit Dejeuner
6470 E Jefferson, Detroit, MI 48207
My favorite brunch spot in the city is Le Petit Dejeuner. The Caramelized Banana French Toast was amazing with a soft interior, a perfect crisp on the edges serving as a border for the savory sweet caramel syrup like drizzle that created a unification of flavors so delicious, I had two! The pancakes are special. Not an arepa, but an actual breakfast pancake made from corn. This incredible short stack was soft, moist, sweet, and balanced with the right amount of crisp on the edges. I honestly couldn’t compare them to other pancakes due to their unique texture and flavor profile. Only thing that can be said is that they’re delicious! The fried chicken wings were seasoned using an in-house mix created by former executive chef DeAndre Woods. They’re fried to tasty golden brown perfection with a quality crunch and succulent meaty flavor you get at home when “momma dem” fry up some wings. I have heard that the space has crazy wait times, so please plan accordingly.
18455 Livernois, Detroit, MI 48221
Egg rolls originated in Southern China as a mainstay of Cantonese cuisine, but creative Americans have remixed them into a food truck favorite containing just about any filling. Chef Bink has added the soul, bringing Detroit yet another delicious outpost. My first roll was the Bink’s delicious Southwest Chicken Egg roll with grilled chicken, red peppers, green onions, corn, black beans, spinach, jalapeno pepper, parsley, and Colby jack cheese. We also had the amazing and super simple Corned Beef Egg Rolls. Chopped seasoned corned beef with Swiss cheese, these rolls literally tasted like mini–Ruben Sandwiches minus the sauerkraut. My favorite was the Buffalo Chicken and Cheese Egg roll that boasts a tanginess supported by a mild heat binding the Coby cheese mild and slightly sweet finish for a crunchy gooey bite. Add to all this deliciousness, the incredibly reasonable $12 price that allows you to indulge in multiple tasty varieties! Like, why wouldn’t you come here? Chef even came through with the vegan roll with white and red cabbage, green onion, red peppers, corn, and carrots. What I love most about the space is the consistency because the rolls are exactly the same deliciousness on each visit.
COOP Caribbean Fusion
474 Peterboro Street
Detroit, MI 48201
Inside the Detroit Shipping Company Food Hall
Chef Max Hardy has created a concept that serves as a Caribbean culinary vacation for Detroiters during the winter months. The flavors are bold, robust, and memorable. I enjoyed almost everything, with the Caribbean corn being an absolute star along with the jerk chicken wings. Being from Miami, we know jerk thanks to our many amazing Jamaican cooks and roadside pits. Chef’s jerk has a slight sweet twist that makes it memorable. The OUTSTANDING Caribbean Fries with Garlic Aioli were probably the most emblematic of Detroit’s decadent and flavorful cuisine. The Brussels were so delicious that I found myself eating them just as greedily as the loaded fries. The chicken sandwich was unlike any I’d had in all of Detroit, in a good way. If you’re not a sauce person, you should ask for the sauce on the side so that you can control how much of it you’d like to spread. Since I love sauce, I wanted them to give it to me nice and sloppy. Oh, and don’t sleep on the curry shrimp and BBQ ribs. My nephew, Jon, thought those two were the best items on the table.
2760 Larned St, Detroit, MI 48207
Breadless was a super interesting eatery with amazing sandwiches where the bread is replaced with nutritious gluten-free options like leafy greens and eggplant. This spot is a 100% gluten-free eatery, and has a lock on creating tasty savory sandwiches, salads, and bowls where the chief ingredient is leafy super greens like swiss chard, turnip greens, collard greens, and dino kale. They also have soups, green teas, cold press juices, and vegan and gluten-free brownies and cookies. My favorites were the Cloud 9 pastrami, What the Kale, and the Jerk City Chicken. Their deli meats are of super high quality, but if meat isn’t your thing, they also serve a couple of standout vegan options. This spot is unique, with hugely healthy options that are also hugely flavorful.
The following are not actual restaurants, but if they were, would have certainly made this list. They are highly recommended must visits on your Detroit foodie tour.
Good Cakes and Bakes
19363 Livernois, Detroit, MI 48221
Epicurean desserts are what you will find at Good Cakes and Bakes. Quite possibly one of the best bakeries in the nation, I’ve been addicted for years. Master Pastry Chef April Anderson is one of those special types of bakers who is simply blessed. Her skill is unmatched when creating high end cakes, cookies, pastries, and African American classics like Banana Pudding, Peach Cobbler, and Sweet Potato Pie. I try to buy as much as possible to take home to Miami, but I never make it because I end up eating it all on the way to the airport, inside the airport, then finishing off whatever’s left on the plane. Each of her desserts is beautifully created with completely natural products free of all that store bought fake shit or dyes. The luxuriousness of her desserts keeps me craving this bakery more than I am able to share without sounding like a food crazed maniac. Let’s just say this. I don’t visit Detroit without going to visit in April and getting my fix.
Miller Hut (Trap Kitchen)
@Dtasteofperfection – Send Inbox to receive menu and place orders
Birria Tacos are a Mexican dish from the state of Jalisco. The dish is a meat stew or soup traditionally made from goat meat, but occasionally made from beef, lamb, mutton or chicken. This Detroit chef makes the best we’ve had throughout our career, second to the Birrias at Shell Shockd. (I kind of want to see the two of them have a battle to settle it once and for all.) Chef stews the proteins used in each taco to a level of tenderness that melts in your mouth amazing along with being marinated in authentic flavors with hints of adobo made of vinegar, dried chiles, garlic, and herbs and spices that invitingly consume your palate. These Birria are made with Mexican cheese, such as Oaxaca. The secret to what makes birria tacos so incredible is dipping the tortillas in the fat from the stew to fry them in a pan. You then dip the tacos in the birria consommé. Do not leave Detroit until you have these. Chef is only on IG and FB, so you would need to inbox to place your order and receive the menu.
Fork in Nigeria (Food Truck)
19228 Livernois, Detroit, MI 48221
Call them at (248) 764-0155
Detroit’s Best Nigerian food HANDS DOWN. You will not regret making this trip.
14661 Fenkell (Inside Check Cashing)
(Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday)
We visited this space when they were cooking out of their home. Yeah, we didn’t care. It was amazing. This soul food was some of the best I’ve had in the nation and if you can’t get to Moore, then this is your first stop. Honestly, I’m going to need them to battle Moore to see who gets the crown from us, because remembering her cuisine is making me hungry.
40 Avalon, Highland Park, MI 48203
So, I was told it’s not actually Detroit, but a town called Highland Park, don’t kill me. In our search for healthier options in Detroit, we were directed to Kalelicious Kreations located inside a home within the beautiful Jakobi Park: 40 Avalon, Highland Park, MI 48203. Let’s start off with I HATE KALE. Well, at least I thought I did. That leaf was completely transformed by this Queen from a gross strong earthy dry tasting vegetable to a delectable mild, slightly crunchy experience adorned with a homemade salad dressing. She created two very special salad dressings which married the kale with perfectly cooked salmon. Her salmon was outstanding in every way imaginable. The real kicker was her usage of homemade artisanal seasonings! Each salmon was seasoned with a different variety carrying various notes of citrus, herbs, spice, and even heat! The kale continued its delicious transformation from palate rags to riches with the intro of her one-of-a-kind kale dip! This dip was incredibly versatile in its usage of being eaten solo or on top of a toasted slice of French bread. It was a little tangy and super cheesy with the kale being incorporated beautifully. And don’t let me even get started on the shakes! Lord have mercy. The shakes were like drinking healthy velvet. Each component blended seamlessly into each other creating a tapestry of sweet and good earthy flavors. If you’re watching your weight or trying to get or stay healthy, without sacrificing taste, this is most definitely the play.